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Journal Article

Gravitational Radiation from Hydrodynamic Turbulence in a Differentially Rotating Neutron Star


Peralta,  Carlos
Astrophysical Relativity, AEI-Golm, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Melatos, A., & Peralta, C. (2010). Gravitational Radiation from Hydrodynamic Turbulence in a Differentially Rotating Neutron Star. Astrophysical Journal, 709, 77-87. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/709/1/77.

Cite as:
(Abridged.) The mean-square current quadrupole moment associated with vorticity fluctuations in high-Reynolds-number turbulence in a differentially rotating neutron star is calculated analytically, as are the amplitude and decoherence time of the resulting, stochastic gravitational wave signal. The calculation resolves the subtle question of whether the signal is dominated by the smallest or largest turbulent eddies: for the Kolmogorov-like power spectrum observed in superfluid spherical Couette simulations, the wave strain is controlled by the largest eddies, and the decoherence time approximately equals the maximum eddy turnover time. For a neutron star with spin frequency $\nu_s$ and Rossby number $Ro$, at a distance $d$ from Earth, the root-mean-square wave strain reaches $h_{RMS} \approx 3\times 10^{-24} Ro^3 (\nu_s / 30 Hz)^3 (d/1 kpc)^{-1}$. A cross-correlation search can detect such a source in principle, because the signal decoheres over the time-scale $\tau_c \approx 10^{-3} Ro^{-1} (\nu_s / 30 Hz)^{-1} s$, which is adequately sampled by existing long-baseline interferometers. Hence hydrodynamic turbulence imposes a fundamental noise floor on gravitational wave observations of neutron stars, although its polluting effect may be muted by partial decoherence in the hectohertz band, where current continuous-wave searches are concentrated, for the highest frequency (and hence most powerful) sources.